Google Product Search Feed Specification and Policies are going under a number of changes starting September 22, 2011.
Google announced that "We'll be taking action against accounts with feeds targeting the United States, France, United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany that don't comply with the new specification and policy requirements (please review the policy document referenced above for details). We'll be sending emails to those accounts with feeds targeting China, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, with more information about changes in those countries."
Note these changes only apply to Google Product Search - not to Google product ad formats or Google Commerce Search.
Below are several examples of how the feed spec is changing in the US; please note that other countries have slightly different requirements:
- "Availability: We'd like a user to be able to find your products even when they're out of stock. For this reason, the [availability] status of all your items will be required.
- Google Product Category: added a new required high-level attribute called [google product category] that contains the category of the item in Google's taxonomy (currently only required for a select number of categories). This's in addition to the current [product type] attribute.
- Images: We're making [image link] required and we encourage you to submit up to 10 additional product images through [additional image link]. This way, you can improve the visual representation of your products.
- Apparel: In order to create a better experience for product variants such as dresses or shoes that're available in multiple colors or sizes, we ask you to include information like [size] and [color] in your product feed. In addition, we require you to provide [gender] and [age group].
- Data Freshness: We'll continue to regularly check feeds for accuracy of pricing, availability, and general product information, and take action against accounts that violate our standards," Google explained.
- New Google Product Search feed specification
- Summary of attribute requirements in table form
- New Google Product Search merchant policies
- Tips for submitting apparel products
- List of changes to feed specification
"We're well on our way toward implementing all compliance checks, including those for Google Product Category, Tax & Shipping, and Variant attributes," said Google. Here're a few ways that you can make sure your product data feed is in good shape:
- "Review the information on the "Data Quality" tab in Google Merchant Center to see data quality errors. We recently changed this tab to give you a clearer view of the status of your items and to make it easier to see which errors are most critical. Where possible, we've also provided actionable advice and feedback on how to fix errors.
- Also be sure to also check the "Data Feeds" tab in your Merchant Center account. This is where you'll find error reports for feed-level issues (e.g. errors in syntax of submitted attributes).
- Use the "New Test Data Feed" functionality (on the Data Feed tab) to submit a new test feed. This test mechanism also allows you to download a full feed processing report and get detailed insights into potential issues with your feed. Note that this functionality is currently only available for test feeds," informs Google.